Tourism thrives in Tonbridge and Malling

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Last Updated: 20 Feb 2019 8:17am

Tourism is big business in Tonbridge and Malling – that’s according to statistics recently released in a report commissioned by Visit Kent.

The report reveals that the value of Tonbridge and Malling’s visitor economy grew by 8.6 per cent in 2017 and is now worth £174 million.  The volume of day trips to the Tonbridge and Malling district leapt by 8.2 per cent in 2017, whilst the value of day trips increased by 10.1 per cent in the same year.

Similarly there were increases reported in both the volume of overnight trips (1 per cent), and the value of overnight trips to the district (2.7 per cent). Visits to the district rose by 7.6 per cent to 3.0 million trips, with 2.8 million day trips and 200,000 overnight stays.

The total number of jobs supported by tourism grew by 8.5 per cent to 3,427, with the industry accounting for 6 per cent of total employment in Tonbridge and Malling.

Nicolas Heslop, Leader of Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council and Cabinet member for Economic Regeneration says:  “This report is very welcome news and shows that, despite challenging conditions in the industry, tourism in Tonbridge and Malling is making a significant contribution to the local economy. We have some fantastic attractions in our borough, such as Tonbridge Castle, Great Comp Gardens and Ightham Mote, as well as an expanding array of great places to dine on Kent produce and it’s all surrounded by picturesque countryside.

“We will be using the data from this report to help shape future tourism activity to ensure that our borough continues to attract visitors from across the UK and beyond so that local businesses and residents continue to benefit from the increasing level of investment.”

The research uses statistics recorded in 2017 and is based on the industry-respected Cambridge Economic Impact Model to measure the volume and value of tourism, and the impact of visits and visitor expenditure on the local economy. Studies were carried out across each of Kent’s districts to build an accurate picture of tourism performance in the county.

The tourism picture was healthy across the county in 2017, Kent welcomed 65 million visitors in 2017, and the visitor economy’s value leapt by 7 per cent to £3.8 billion.

The Garden of England welcomed a record 64,970,000 visitors throughout 2017 with the county’s tourism industry accounting for 76,828 jobs. Across Kent, visitor numbers rose compared to the previous year with the highest volume of day trips, value of tourism and tourism related jobs recorded.

Kent also remains the third most visited destination outside of London for foreign visitors.

Chief executive of Visit Kent, Deirdre Wells OBE said: “Tourism is the UK’s fastest growing service sector and these figures demonstrate the contribution which our vital industry makes to the economy of Kent. With our stunning countryside, world-class heritage, and delicious locally sourced food and drink, it is no surprise that visitor numbers are increasing in districts like Tonbridge and Malling year on year.

“The collective efforts of tourism businesses across the county have paid dividends and this partnership will be critical in ensuring that this growth continues during a challenging year ahead.”

She added: “These figures demonstrate that, wherever you are based in Kent, tourism can bring growth, prosperity and jobs to your community. Our challenge going forward will be to turn more of our day visits into overnight stays and short breaks, bringing even further growth to the county.”

Since 2006, the value of Kent’s tourism industry has risen by 33 per cent.

Leader of Kent County Council, Paul Carter, said “The results from the 2017 survey commissioned by Visit Kent clearly show that the visitor economy is increasingly important to the county’s future prosperity”.

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